In the newest trove released by the crowd-sourced whistleblower WikiLeaks, a document from the private intelligence firm Stratfor says Egypt’s military leaders were endeavoring to remove Hosni Mubarak and his son from power months before protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, and that at their height, demonstrations were not as large as had been reported.
“In the months leading up to the January demonstrations, Egypt’s top generals were delivering very stern ultimatums to the president to abandon any hope of passing the reins to Gamal while looking at their options to unseat Mubarak via more unconventional means,” a Statfor analyst wrote in an email.
In the email to a company list, the analyst describes the 18 days of protest last winter as a result of a military scheme to hijack Mubarak’s plan of propelling his younger son Gamal to power, not a movement of popular dissent.
WikiLeaks, an international nonprofit online database, has in the past released confidential information from anonymous whistleblowers about governments. In its latest revelation, The Global Intelligence Files, WikiLeaks is releasing over 5 million emails from the Texas-based “global intelligence” company Stratfor, dating between July 2004 and late December 2011. Starting at the end of February, WikiLeaks began issuing the emails in waves.
“The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods,” WikiLeaks says on its website.
WikiLeaks also said the emails show evidence that Stratfor made “secret deals with dozens of media organizations and journalists — from Reuters to the Kiev Post,” in addition to cultivating a close relationship with the US government and intelligence services.
So far, a 13 December 2011 email titled “Contemporary Challenges: Life After Mubarak” seems to be the only correspondence on Egypt. The message appears to have been sent by an analyst named Reva Bhalla to a list of other employees.
“But perhaps the most central indication that the revolution was misconstrued comes from the participation levels,” the message reads. “On the day that Mubarak ultimately stepped down the protests reached their peak. By the most aggressive estimate only 750,000 people — less than 1 percent of the population of densely populated Egypt — took to the streets.”
These numbers pale in comparison with the size of protests in Eastern Europe that led to the fall of communist leaders there, and in Iran against the Shah, the analyst writes. There, the author writes, at least 10 percent of the population protested, sometimes almost reaching 50 percent.
Many news reports at the time said millions of Egyptians were protesting in the days leading up to Mubarak’s departure.
According to the analyst, historical and empirical evidence proves that Egypt’s uprising, though it is often trumpeted as a people’s revolution, was anything but.
“In short, Egypt’s Arab Spring was a palace coup, not a revolution,” he says.
According to WikiLeaks, the Texas-based Stratfor has provided confidential intelligence services for numerous corporations, including defense industry mainstays like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. Also among its clients are various US government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Marines and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
It’s unclear what kind of presence the company has in Egypt. Its website only lists information for its Austin, Texas office.
Egypt’s military leaders, the email’s author writes, saw Gamal Mubarak’s plans to break the military-based economy and install his family as a ruling dynasty as a dangerous threat to their lifestyles.
As these same military leaders now hold the reins of power, the email says there has been little concrete or political change in Egypt: “Concentration of power, physical isolation from the outside world and dependence upon outside forces for economic security remain the trifecta that drives Egyptian society and governmental development.”
The email also touches on the political and diplomatic obstacles the ruling military council now faces, saying the generals will likely act as architects of the new constitution.
“The rewriting of Egypt’s constitution, a process that the military intends to fully control, is likely to be one of several major disappointments that the opposition is likely to contend within the months ahead, adding more friction to the already delicate arrangements the military has been seeking out with key opposition factions in trying to remove this fight from the streets.”
The email also states that after the rise of political Islamists in Egypt, the country is more likely to be lured by the Palestinian Hamas government into a military conflict with Israel.
“Egypt could find itself in the midst of a Sinai crisis with Israel that both sides have spent the past 33 years desperately trying to avoid,” it says.